George Coffin papers
Collection Scope and Content
Material in this collection include original political cartoons from Washington newspapers; lithographic reproductions of other political cartoons; original pen and ink illustrations of civil war stories; scrapbooks containing original political cartoons, lithographic reproductions of cartoons, original sketches, and newspaper clippings; diaries; and loose sketches and photographs. These materials date from 1858-1896.
The largest group of materials are the 352 large-size, original political cartoons, 193 of which were published in "The Washington Post" during his tenure as political cartoonist (1891-1896) All but 25 of these have been identified by date and caption. Other publications to which Coffin contributed and which are represented in this collection are "The Washington Hatchet," "The Critic," "The National Tribune," and "The Washington Daily News." These cartoons are not dated or captioned for the most part. Another segment of the collection consists of 61 sets of civil war story illustrations made by Coffin which appeared in separately published personal accounts of the war and in various Washington periodicals in the two decades which followed the American Civil War. The Coffin papers also contain six scrapbooks of original sketches (1858-1869), newspaper clippings of articles illustrated by Coffin (1875-1885), original political cartoons (1880s), lithographic reproductions of cartoons (1890s), and articles published about Coffin after his death. Finally, the collection includes four volumes of Coffin's handwritten diaries (1859-1868), covering the period of his undergraduate years at Columbian College.
The George Y. Coffin papers were the gift of Ms. Isabelle Solomons in June, 1926.
- Coffin, George Yost (Person)
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George Yost Coffin (1850-1896) was a prominent Washington D.C. political cartoonist of the late nineteenth century. Coffin came to Washington with his parents in 1858. During the civil war years he was a student at Columbian College (later George Washington University). Following his graduation in 1869 he attended the Columbian University Law School, completing his degree in 1871. In 1872 Coffin found employment as a clerk in the Revenue Marine division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, a post which he held until his death in 1896. His career as a political cartoonist started in the mid-1870s with the first illustrated paper in Washington, D.C., the Illustrated Washington Chronicle. After its demise, Coffin contributed freely to a number of journals of politics and humor including Harper's Weekly, Puck, and The Judge, until the Washington weekly, The Hatchet, was started in 1883 and engaged Coffin as its cartoonist. While his tenure there was short-lived, The Hatchet having soon discontinued its pictorial feature, Coffin's artistic stock was on the rise. By the mid-1880s he was contributing cartoons to practically every local paper that printed pictures. At one time Coffin was drawing for The Washington Star, The Critic, The Sunday Herald, The National Republican, The Washington Post, and The National Tribune, as well as for some New York papers representing every shade of political , opinion. In 1891, however, Coffin gave up his free lance work when he became the official cartoonist of The Washington Post. This position he held until his death in 1896 at the age of 46.
7.5 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Collection includes original political cartoons from Washington newspapers; lithographic reproductions of other political cartoons; original pen and ink illustrations of civil war stories; scrapbooks containing original political cartoons, lithographic reproductions of cartoons, original sketches, and newspaper clippings; diaries; and loose sketches and photographs. These materials date from 1858-1896.
Organized into five series: Series 1. Political cartoons, 1891-1896; Series 2. Civil War illustrations, 1860s - 1890s; Series 3. Scrapbooks, 1858-1890s; Series 4. Diaries, 1859-1861; and Series 5. Miscellaneous Loose Sketches and Photographs, undated.
Please note: there is a paper finding aid available in the reading room that has details for the political cartoons including titles, dates, and sizes. Please see staff for assistance.
- Autobiography Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Cartoonists Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Coffin, George Yost
- Columbian College in the District of Columbia
- Diaries Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- George Washington University--History
- Newspapers Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Photographs Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Political satire Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Scrapbooks Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Washington (D.C.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Guide to the George Coffin papers, 1858-1896
- Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English